December 23, 2013 By Paul Wallin

In child custody cases involving particularly difficult issues where the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, it is possible that the court may on its own motion order a Child Custody Evaluation. It is also possible for either party in a dissolution action to request a 730 evaluation by agreement and filing a “Stipulation” or agreement.

What is a 730 Evaluation?

730 evaluation
If you are facing a child custody battle, know the 730 Evaluation process.

A 730 evaluation is based on section 730 of the California Evidence Code that provides for the appointment of a licensed expert to make a recommendation to the court regarding a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the children. When a family law judge makes an order for such an examination, he or she must first determine that it is in the best interest of the children. Since this kind of Child Custody Evaluation can be time consuming and expensive, judges can be reluctant to order such an evaluation unless there are extraordinary issues involving the custody and visitation of the children.

When is a 730 Evaluation Necessary?

When the best interest of the child is in question, it is likely that a Judge would request a 730 Evaluation. Custody and visitation orders are often based on the findings of these evaluations, which could be ordered for a number of reasons including:

  • Concerns about child abuse;
  • Substance abuse;
  • Mental health problems;
  • One parent wishes to move out of state and the other parent objects;
  • Questionable parenting practices that could have a negative impact on a child;
  • The parents are unable to agree on the custodial arrangement.

Who are the Custody Evaluators?

In California, a custody evaluation can be conducted by any of the following qualified mental health professionals:

  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychologist
  • Qualified social workers
  • Marriage and Family Therapist may conduct a custody evaluation. However, formal psychological testing can only be completed by a trained psychologist.

Even if a psychologist serves as an evaluator, he or she may rely on another psychologist to complete the testing and then interpret the test since it is a highly-skilled area. A psychological test can reveal personality and family dynamics, as well as reveal potential mental health and parenting problems.

Who Chooses the Evaluator?

Either the Judge selects an evaluator or the Judge asks the parties to submit a list of evaluators, which the Judge will then choose from. In some situations, the two sides can agree on an evaluator with the court’s agreement.

Results of the Evaluation Report

Before a custody hearing, the evaluator will release a report to all parties involved, including the court. If both parties accept the report, it is submitted into evidence. If there are disagreements, either party can rebut the findings. However, it is the judge who will ultimately make the decision. The evaluator merely offers input and insight that the court will consider in determining what is in the children’s best interest. In some cases, a second expert is employed to review and sometimes contradict the report.

Call the Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

A Child Custody Evaluation or 730 Evaluation is an expensive and time-consuming process. It is best utilized when there are exceptional issues. One of our Wallin & Klarich family law attorneys can best guide you through this process.

With offices located in Orange County, Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville and West Covina, there is a skilled and knowledgeable Wallin & Klarich family law attorney near you no matter where you are located.

Call us today at (888) 749-7428 for immediate help. We will get through this together.

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